In the course of writing an exercise piece for class, I ended up writing what might work as a short scene for my Miska story. It’s a bit odd, given that I changed narration style, but the core conflict feels right. I hope you enjoy it!
“But Mr. Edmond,” I sputtered, “you know my mother can’t pay that loan.”
He gave me a mocking frown. “Oh she can’t, eh? Good to know.” He tapped his teeth with his pen, then scrawled a note in his ledger. He didn’t bother to look up at me. He simply turned up the finely made oil lamp that rested on his finely made desk.
“Look, you,” he scowled up at me, cutting me short. “You get this through your bony little head. You’re wasting my time, and I don’t take kindly to that.” He leveled the pen in my direction. “Now go and figure out what you’re going to do once you’re living in the poor house. Or kill yourself. I really don’t care.”
I stared at him, and closed my mouth. He still sat behind his desk, like the self-righteous little prig that he was. He’d already gone back to writing more notes for himself. Behind me, standing by the door, the secretary coughed politely into his huge fist. I took a step back, eyes still caught by the movement of Mr. Edmond’s pen. How was it that something so small could sentence my family to a life of poverty?
I couldn’t just let that happen without doing anything. But what could I do?
“Miss,” it was the secretary, his voice deep and rumbling.
I nodded, turned around, and strode out of Mr. Edmond’s office through the door his secretary held open. I remembered my way to the street.
My afternoon and evening were consumed with thoughts of Mr. Edmond’s oil lamp. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Somehow it seemed to have been seared there like a gaudy glowing reminder; another point in a long tally of ways in which Mr. Edmond was better off than my family.
It wasn’t until I’d settled into bed for the night, listening to my sisters’ bed rustle and creak in the dark, that the image finally caught flame. I had a way to settle things. It was poetic, really, and I thought that it would make the Northmen proud. I crept out of bed, out of my home, and walked the streets of Marseille as I had so many times before, like I knew what I was doing and had somewhere to go. It was true this time.
It took me hours to collect the supplies that I wanted and bring them to Mr. Edmond’s office’s building without looking too suspicious. It was actually comfortable, so close to the wharves. As I worked my mind kept turning over and over in my head. The risks were stupendous. If I were caught I’d be hung, if I weren’t sold on the auction block for New World labor. But success would mean freedom for my whole family. No more extortion from a greedy, grasping, arrogant ass.
It was only after I’d lit the fire that I realized a patroller saw me. And then it was time to run.